INSPIRED by the care his dying wife received in her final days, a lecturer at Oxford Brookes University has raised more than £12,000 to help others at Sobell House.

Mike Dennis raised the staggering amount to have 20 new television screens installed at the hospice centre.

The senior lecturer in primary science at the university’s school of education, raised the generous sum after his wife Rachel Kay, 50, died from breast cancer in 2014.

Oxford Mail: Mike Dennis and his wife Rachel Kay who died from breast cancer in August 2014 at Sobell House

Mike Dennis and his wife Rachel Kay who died from breast cancer in August 2014.

She spent the last two weeks of her life receiving care at the hospice and at this incredibly difficult time, those care provided at Sobell inspired Mr Dennis.

The 54-year-old said: “My lovely wife Rachel died in Sobell House after living with cancer for 11 years.

“She spent the last two weeks of her life at the hospice and although she was very frightened at the prospect of being admitted, it quickly proved to be just right for her.

“I cannot speak highly enough of the staff and the love and the care they provided for Rachel, me and my family.

“It is a truly special place – not a phrase I would use lightly.

“When we spent time in Rachel’s room there was always one particular aspect that we talked about which we said could do with some TLC of its own."

While the staff where fantastic, the television system was difficult to use and cost £10 each time which put some patients off.

After Rachel passed away, Mike promised himself that he would do his best to influence a change and it was agreed, with the help of local MP Andrew Smith, that the franchise agreement in place at Sobell House could be put aside and replaced with easy-to-use, high quality televisions.

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Earlier this year Mike organised a charity fundraising day (pictured) at Oxford Brookes University and asked his colleagues and students to donate money to dress up as their favourite children’s television characters for the day.

Mr Dennis added: “I am delighted and proud of everyone who has helped to raise the money.

“We had fun and secured enough donations to fund the change and make it possible, which is great news.”

He raised a total of £12,500 and funded the installation of eleven 40” televisions and nine smaller screen to go in the bays of three on the ward.

Tim Harrison, Clinical Lead at Sobell House, said: “As well as medical care, one of the most important aspects of hospice care is to ensure that every patient has a home from home feeling.

“We want our patients to feel as content and happy as they possibly can at such a difficult time.”

“Little things, such as having your favourite drink or being able to watch your favourite programme, can be so important to many of our patients.

“It can make such a huge difference to their day.”


The Oxford Mail has launched an appeal to help raise funds for Sobell House and thanks to the generosity of readers, £3,520 has been collected so far.

It aims to fund 100 days of care by raising £40,000 in generous donations from across the community.

Oxford Mail:

It forms part of the hospice's efforts to raise £4m over four years for a new dementia-friendly clinic and garden annex at hospice based at the Churchill Hospital.

Since opening its doors in 1976 Sobell House has cared for more than 100,000 people across Oxfordshire. 

It costs £400 a day to care for a patient on the ward and 400 volunteers provide essential support to patients and their families.